Picadilly Circus - a Hybrid Space

By Sif Vinsten

Piccadilly Circus in the heart of London embodies the definition of a hybrid space. Piccadilly Circus is more than anything a place of interaction, as it's a roundabout connecting five of the busiest streets. Here you’ll find plenty of shops, theatres, cinemas, clubs and various other kinds of entertainment venues, and underground the Piccadilly Line is centred – once again a gathering point, connecting people.

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Piccadilly Circus is famous for its huge neon advertising signs presently displaying different products and companies. The most famous one being Coca-Cola, who’s been advertising at this spot since 1955. The huge board which Coca-Cola occupies has been used for several different events, and serves a huge function as a way of communicating. So huge that Yoko Ono in 2002 paid an estimated £ 150.000 in order for the sign to read: “"Imagine all the people living life in peace” by John Lennon. It was estimated that about 1 million people each week would see these words displayed on the billboard – talking about getting your message across!

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Coca-Cola is the oldest resident at Piccadilly Circus, and the current version is from 2003. Back then Coca-Cola took over Nescafés spot, and replaced it with a state-of-the-art LED video display curving around the building.
This video has also been used for non-commercial displays on several occasions. The most famous event staged here is probably the screening of the 4 minute long movie “The Ballet of Change” in 2007. On November 23rd at 19.30 “The Ballet of Change” aired as the final film in a series of four films all regarding world famous landmarks in London: London Brigde, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Each film was about the history of the location shown through music and imagery. It was a new and innovative use of the screens, and it made Piccadilly Circus “speak”, as it told the story of this place on what must be regarded as the most contemporary method of communication: huge video-constellations.

Another event which has taken place at this spot is the “Get your message up!”, which was an event created by Coca-Cola giving the consumers an opportunity to send a message to their loved ones in the period 12.12.07-02.01.08. You would simply send a form to Coca-Cola, and the message would be displayed on the huge screens for the world to see. A text message would be delivered to your mobile, regarding which time your text would be displayed. Adding to this the messages would also be broadcasted on the internet. This event took into use three different kinds of media, not for the purpose of advertising, but for the simple purpose of giving people a chance to communicate in a new way; by displaying their messages in a spot seen by thousands of people – and unlike the internet, nobody had to go searching for it; the information would reach everyone, without them having to make an effort.

Piccadilly Circus is, to sum up, a place of various sorts of communication, and I have presented four different topics; advertisements, ethical issues, art and private life displayed in public.

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